Page images




which the new owner entered into possession, ordered Nethersole not to speak of business till the festivities were over.

strong mea.


The delay, however, was not a long one. After a day or two the King removed to Hampton Court; and on the 27th NetherBuckingham sole had an interview with Buckingham, which gave declares for him no less pleasure than surprise. The news from Heidelberg had rooted itself painfully, for the moment, in the shifting sands of the favourite's imagination; and his voice was now to be heard amongst those raised most loudly for war. He was very confident, he said, that the King would now perform everything that he had promised. As for himself, he would use all the credit he had in hastening matters to a satisfactory conclusion, and it should not be his fault if he did not go in person to the wars. "Tell the Queen your mistress," he added, that though I cannot undertake to do so much as the Duke of Brunswick hath done for her service, I will show my good will not to be behind him in affection." Nor did Buckingham stand alone in his eager desire for war. Those who had hitherto favoured negotiation were now of one mind with Pembroke and Abbot in believing that the time for negotiation had passed by; and Weston's arrival was eagerly expected, in order that a vigorous resolution might be taken when a fuller knowledge of the state of affairs at Brussels had been obtained.1

Buckingham and the

Whether Buckingham would now be more successful in forcing an energetic policy upon James than on those former occasions when he had happened to be in a warlike mood, might well be doubted; but it was certain Prince. that he would have on his side the warm support of the Prince of Wales, and with the aid of the son he might not unreasonably hope to have at least a chance of conquering the reluctance of the father.

It was by his position far more than by his character that the Prince was likely to serve him. Charles had now Character of nearly completed his twenty-second year. To a


superficial observer he was everything that a young prince should be. His bearing, unlike that of his father, was 1 Nethersole to Carleton, Sept. 28, S. P. Holland.

graceful and dignified. His only blemish was the size of his tongue, which was too large for his mouth, and which, especially when he was excited, caused a difficulty of expression almost amounting to a stammer. In all bodily exercises, his supremacy was undoubted. No man in England could ride better than he. His fondness for hunting was such that James was heard to exclaim that by this he recognised him as his true and worthy son.1 In the tennis-court and in the tiltingyard he surpassed all competitors. No one had so exquisite an ear for music, could look at a fine picture with greater appreciation of its merits, or could keep time more exactly when called upon to take part in a dance. Yet these, and such as these, were the smallest of his merits. Regular in his habits, his household was a model of economy. His own attire was such as in that age was regarded as a protest against the prevailing extravagance. His moral conduct was irreproachable; and it was observed that he blushed like a girl whenever an immodest word was uttered in his presence. Designing women, of the class which had preyed upon his brother Henry, found it expedient to pass him by, and laid their nets for more susceptible hearts than his.2

1 Relazione di G. Lando, Rel. Ven. Ingh. 263.

2 Lando describes him (Rel. Ven. Ingh. 261,) as "O vincendo e domando, o non sentendo li moti del senso, non avendo assaggiati, che si sappia, certi giovanili piaceri, nè scoprendosi che sia stato rapito il suo amore, se non per qualche segno di poesia e ben virtuose apparenze, arrossendo anco come modesta donzella se sente a parlare di materia poco onesta. Onde le donne non lo tentano nè anche, come facevano col fratello, che tanto pregiava le bellezze, ed era seguitato e rubato da ognuna."

[ocr errors]

In the face of this, it is impossible to pay any further attention to the vague gossip which Tillières thought worthy of a place in his despatches.

It is, however, well known that it is generally believed that Jeremy Taylor's second wife was a natural daughter of Charles, born before this time. Against this story Lando's evidence is of some weight, and it is certain that his opinion was shared by many others, as in a letter, addressed to Charles by Digby, on the 12th of August, 1621 (Clarendon State Papers, i., App. xvi.), there is mention of a wide-spread belief in Germany that the prince was physically incapacitated from ever becoming a father. The story rests upon family tradition, but anyone who reads




Yet, in spite of all these excellencies, keen-sighted observers, who were by no means blind to his merits, were not diposed to prophesy good of his future reign. In truth, his very virtues were a sign of weakness. He was born to be the idol of schoolmasters and the stumbling block of statesmen. His modesty and decorum were the result of sluggishness rather than of selfrestraint. Uncertain in judgment, and hesitating in action, he clung fondly to the small proprieties of life, and to the narrow range of ideas which he had learned to hold with a tenacious grasp; whilst he was ever prone, like his unhappy brother-inlaw, to seek refuge from the uncertainties of the present by a sudden plunge into rash and iil-considered action. With such a character, the education which he had received had been the worst possible. From his father he had never had a chance of acquiring a single lesson in the first virtue of a ruler-that love of truth which would keep his ear open to all assertions and to all complaints, in the hope of detecting something which it might be well for him to know. Nor was the injury which his mind thus received merely negative; for James, vague as his political theories were, was intolerant of contradiction, and his impatient dogmatism had early taught his son to conceal his thoughts in sheer diffidence of his own powers. To hold his tongue as long as possible, and then to say, not what he believed to be true, but what was likely to be pleasing, became his daily task, till he ceased to be capable of looking difficulties fully in the face. The next step upon the downward path was but too inviting. As each question rose before him for solution, his first thought was how it might best be evaded, and he usually took refuge either in a studied silence, or in some of those varied forms of equivocation which are usually supposed by weak minds not to be equivalent to falsehood.1

Heber's Life of Taylor, will see that the traditions of that family were often vague, and sometimes incorrect. The lady, it seems, was very like Charles in personal appearance, and it is by no means improbable that some one may have accounted for the chance likeness in this way, and that in due course of time the story was accepted, if not by herself, at least by her children, who, in those days of Royalist enthusiasm, would feel a sort of pride in tracing their descent from the Royal Martyr.

1 Rel. Ven. Ingh. 262.


ham's in


Over such a character, Buckingham had found no difficulty in obtaining a thorough mastery. On the one condition of making a show of regarding his wishes as all-important, he was able to mould those wishes almost as fluence with he pleased. To the reticent, hesitating youth it was a relief to find some one who would take the lead in amusement and in action, who could make up his mind for him in a moment when he was himself plunged in hopeless uncertainty, and who possessed a fund of gaiety and light-heartedness which was never at fault.

His thoughts about the marriage.

For the Spanish marriage, or indeed for any other marriage, Charles had long cared but little, though he had openly declared himself well satisfied with the provision made by his father for his future life. One of the feelings which he had retained from his childhood was a warm attachment to his sister; and it is by no means improbable that he had come to regard the match proposed for him mainly as the mode in which, as he was told, the restitution of the Palatinate might most easily be obtained. It was certainly hardly with a lover's feelings that he consented at last to play a lover's part. One day, after he had been paying compliments in public to a portrait of the Infanta, he turned to one of his confidential attendants as soon as he thought that his words would be unheard. "Were it not for the sin," he said, "it would be well if princes could have two wives; one for reason of state, the other to please themselves." 1

His promise

At length, however, apparently after the dissolution of Parliament, a change seems to have taken place, partly, perhaps, because his increasing years brought a growing desire for marriage, partly, no doubt, because what he looked upon as the factious proceedings of the House of Commons, threw him, together with his friend Buckingham, more than ever into the arms of Spain.

to visit Madrid.

Accordingly, during the last months of Gondomar's stay in England, the bonds between the Spanish embassy and the Prince of Wales were drawn more closely. It was one of the final triumphs of that ambassador, that he induced Charles not

1 Rel. Ven. Ingh. 265.




only to admit Sir Thomas Savage, a known Roman Catholic, amongst the commissioners by whom his revenue was managed, but even to adopt this course after Savage had decidedly refused to take the oath of allegiance. Before he left London, the ambassador had drawn from the Prince an offer to visit Madrid incognito, with two servants only, if, upon his own return to Spain, he should see fit to advise the step.2


That, in angling for this promise, Gondomar was influenced by the idea that, when once Charles was under the spell of the Roman Catholic ceremonial, it would be easy object. to induce him to profess himself a convert to the religion of his bride, there can be no doubt whatever. Years before, when the marriage was first discussed, the suggestion that the Prince's presence at Madrid might in this way be turned to account, had been made by the Spanish ambassador.3 It afterwards formed the groundwork of the complaint against Buckingham that he had been a fellow-conspirator with the Spaniard in an attempt to turn away his master's son from the Protestant faith; but it is almost inconceivable that he can seriously have entertained any such notion, though it is not impossible that just at that moment when what faith he had was trembling in the balance, when he was listening with one ear to his wife and his mother, and with his other ear to Laud, he may have uttered some rash words which cannot fairly be taken as affording a safe clue to his subsequent conduct. It can hardly be doubted that he looked upon the expedition as a bold dashing exploit, and that as such he represented it to Charles, who would naturally be captivated by the part which he would himself be called upon to play.

Since that conversation with Gondomar, however, much had

1 Gondomar to Philip IV., Jan. 21, 1622, Simancas MSS. 2518, fol. 20.



"Este Principe me ha offrezido en mucha confiança y secreto que, si llegado yo á España le aconsejase que se vaya á poner en las manos de V. Mag. y á su disposicion, lo hará y llegará á Madrid yncognito con dos criados." Gondomar to Philip IV., May Simancas MSS. 2603, fol. 35.

[blocks in formation]

6 16'

« PreviousContinue »